Objective: Aortic unfolding occurs with aging and reflects proximal aortic dilation, aortic arch widening, and decreased curvature. This study 1) evaluated the relationship between aortic unfolding measured using non-contrast cardiac-gated computed tomography (CT) and age, 2) assessed factors influencing aortic unfolding, and 3) determined the association of this measurement with coronary artery calcium (CAC) score. Methods: We reviewed the charts of 219 subjects (142 men, 77 women; mean age 54.2±9.3 years) who underwent coronary artery calcium scanning during routine health screening from December 2010 to May 2011. Multivariate regression analysis according to cardiovascular risk factors was performed. We also analyzed the relationship between aortic unfolding measurements and CAC score using stepwise multiple linear regression. Results: Mean aortic unfolding was 103.7±13.9 mm (men, 106.5±13.5 mm; women, 98.4±12.9 mm). Age, body surface area, and hypertension were exclusively associated with aortic unfolding. The association between aortic unfolding and CAC score was significant after adjustment for age and gender (β = 1.89, p = 0.017) and for Framingham risk score (β = 2.83, p<0.001). Conclusions: Aortic unfolding defined by measuring aortic width was a reproducible and practical method with non-contrast cardiac CT and associated with age, body surface area, and hypertension. CAC score, a well-established surrogate marker of cardiovascular disease, is positively associated with aortic unfolding. Further study to evaluate aortic unfolding as a potential predictor of cardiovascular risk is warranted.
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